Healers are getting a bit of an overhaul in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, the latest expansion set to release in November. Square-Enix introduced a new healing job, Sage, bringing the roster of healers to a total of four. We only had three healer jobs since 2015 with Heavensward, the first expansion, which introduced Astrologian into the mix. Before then, we had White Mage and Scholar to choose from back in A Realm Reborn.
The healing role was rather shaky with only White Mage, Astrologian, and Scholar for several years. White Mage was a “pure” healer, Scholar was the only “barrier” healer, while Astrologian was a hybrid of the two, able to switch between pure healing and shielding stances with Diurnal Sect and Nocturnal Sect, respectively. This didn’t always work out so well, with Astrologian going through varying stages of underpowered and overpowered as the devs struggled to balance the job against the other two healers. Now with the introduction of Sage, White Mage and Astrologian will be the two “pure” healers, while Scholar and Sage will share the “barrier” healer designation.
In this article, we’re only focusing on Final Fantasy XIV’s current healers – White Mage, Astrologian, and Scholar. If you’re already familiar with these three jobs and want a crash course on Sage instead, hop on over to part two.
Pure Healers and Barrier Healers
But what exactly do we mean by “pure” and “barrier” healing? For the record, all healers are expected to deal damage in high-end content. Because raid battles in Final Fantasy XIV are highly-scripted in nature, healers have the freedom to spend a lot of time dealing damage, while stopping to heal during scripted intervals, and then getting back to dealing damage to beat the enrage timers. No one at this level of play is purely focused on healing in the way that “pure healing” may imply. You can think of White Mage and Astrologian more as powerful burst healers who can quickly fill up HP bars in a pinch. While Scholar and Sage focus on their barriers, ideally preventing HP bars from depleting too much in the first place. All four healers have some mix and match of standard heals, heals over time, and barriers, but their kits specialize in either “pure” or “barrier” healing as a whole.
Healers in 8-man parties work together to keep the group alive. Designating one as the “pure” healer and one as the “barrier” healer keeps the bases covered. During the Endwalker media tour, we learned how healers are changing, or not changing, with the next expansion. The new Sage job will bring a different style of play to the healer role.
Armed with all the news from the media tour, let’s go for a deeper dive into healers, starting with the existing three jobs: what changed, what didn’t change, and their potential playstyles in all content. Then we’ll go over exactly what Sage brings to the roster in part two, along with how they’ll potentially play once the expansion launches.
White Mage – The Reliable Pure Healer
White Mage has always been our straightforward pure healer. They have powerful standard heals mixed with heal over time spells. Their single-target, personal damage is currently the highest of the three existing healers. Their spell Holy is a godsend in dungeons, as a strong, flashy AoE attack that stuns trash mobs for several seconds, preventing all incoming damage on the tank. They have a great single-target shield in Divine Benison. And they can immediately heal someone to 100% HP, no questions asked (usually), with Benediction on a generous 180-second cooldown. Tetragrammaton is a beefy on-demand single-target heal at no cost. Although it’s not as strong as Benediction, it’s available every 60 seconds.
White Mage’s job mechanic revolves around gaining “lilies” over time, and spending these lilies through special, instant Afflatus heals. Afflatus Solace is an on-demand single-target heal the White Mage can use even while moving. Also instant-cast, Afflatus Rapture heals the whole party. Using three Afflatus heals then opens up the use of Afflatus Misery, a massive AoE damaging spell that can take out chunks of HP on multiple trash mobs in dungeons.
During raids or against single bosses, White Mage spams their single-target damaging spell, Glare, and keeping their damage over time spell, Dia, ticking on the boss. When a White Mage needs to heal the whole party, they have Afflatus Rapture as their quickest tool. Assize is another strong AoE heal, but this also deals damage, and so seasoned White Mages prioritize this as a damaging tool first and a healing tool second. If no one needs immediate healing, they can instead use Asylum as a strong heal over time effect. White Mages resort to their AoE spells such as Medica II and Cure III only when they’ve exhausted instant-heals like Afflatus Rapture, or if they need stronger heals for incoming attacks, or if there’s nothing in range for them to attack. For single-target healing, Afflatus Solace is the go-to alongside Tetragrammaton and Benediction. Stopping your DPS spells to hard-cast Cure II is a last resort if absolutely nothing else is available. Their level 80 capstone ability, Temperance, grants the party extra mitigation against damage while also boosting the effectiveness of their healing spells.
White Mage – Leveling in Endwalker
In Endwalker, the level cap is going up from level 80 to level 90. At level 82, White Mage unlocks a stronger version of Glare for their single-target damage. They also unlock a higher tier of Holy at this time, which still grants the additional stun effect. At level 86, they get Aquaveil, which grants the target a free 15% damage mitigation for a short time. Their next level 90 capstone ability is Lilybell. When using Lilybell, the White Mage places a glowing flower on the field. When the White Mage takes damage, the Lilybell pulses out a heal to the entire party, for a total of five pulses. This frees up the White Mage during phases where a raid boss sends out multiple attacks over and over.
However, they’re receiving a nerf to their ability Thin Air. As of now, Thin Air allows the White Mage to cast spells for no MP cost for a few seconds. In Endwalker, White Mage will no longer be able to do this, instead only getting to use Thin Air for one spell and one spell only. This will keep White Mages from freely spamming Cure III, their most powerful on-demand party healing spell. But other than that, White Mages can expect their job to stay the same.
Astrologian – The Flashy Pure Healer
As mentioned before, Astrologian hasn’t typically had a solid footing in the healer role. They’ve gone back and forth over the years, but their core identity as a divining, Tarot-reading “time mage” has more or less stayed the same. Astrologian is a support-based healer, offering boosts to party members in the form of cards, at the cost of dealing the least personal damage out of all healers. The Astrologian uses Draw to obtain cards – but the cards’ effects have shifted and changed dramatically since the job’s introduction in Heavensward. Their current abilities Diurnal Sect and Nocturnal Sect allow the Astrologian to change the properties of some of their healing spells and abilities. Diurnal adds a healing over time effect, while Nocturnal adds barriers. The relative power of their healing spells and abilities have fluctuated significantly over the years. But Astrologian is now in a great state where they can heal quickly and effectively, while also providing great support to their party members.
Like White Mage, a seasoned Astrologian will look to their instant healing abilities first in most situations, leaving their hard-casted spells as second priorities. Astrologian has a ton of these healing tools in their arsenal. Essential Dignity is a unique ability that heals a target more the less HP they have. Celestial Intersection is Astrologian’s version of Divine Benison from White Mage, granting the target a simple shield while using Diurnal Sect. Collective Unconscious is an ability the Astrologian channels around themselves, granting nearby party members a reduction from incoming damage and a strong heal over time effect. Celestial Opposition is an on-demand form of White Mage’s Medica II that gives the party raw healing in addition to a damage over time effect. Earthly Star is an effect the Astrologian places on the ground. After ten seconds, the star will grow in size. At this time, the player can detonate Earthly Star now, or wait ten more seconds for it to go off on its own. The star will detonate for more damage and more healing than it would have if the Astrologian activated the effect in those first ten seconds.
Astrologian also has a great deal of utility outside of their cards. Their Lightspeed ability grants them instant cast spells for fifteen whole seconds. Horoscope is like Earthly Star, but it is an effect you place on your party members. If the Astrologian activates Horoscope again, or if the effect wears off, then it’ll grant a small heal. But if the player casts a party-wide healing spell with Helios or Aspected Helios, then Horoscope will grant a much stronger heal in conjunction. Synastry allows the Astrologian to heal two party members at once with Benefic or Benefic II, or they can simply cure bomb a single person for a much stronger effect. Finally, Neutral Sect gives the Astrologian’s heals the effects of both Diurnal and Nocturnal Sect – meaning heals over time on top of barriers – to pretty much negate most danger to the party for the next twenty seconds.
Astrologian – Leveling in Endwalker
In Endwalker, Astrologian is making the shift to a pure healer alongside White Mage. This means Diurnal Sect and Nocturnal Sect are no more. All of their healing spells and abilities will function as the Diurnal versions instead. Neutral Sect will remain the same, however. While leveling from 80 to 90, Astrologians can expect the same upgraded versions to their damage spells Malefic and Gravity. As their version of Aquaveil, players will unlock Exaltation at level 86, granting a 10% damage reduction to a target and then healing them once the effect’s duration wears off. Macrocosmos is Astrologian’s capstone ability at level 90. For fifteen seconds, the ability will compile 50% of the party’s total damage taken, healing everyone for the same amount once the effect wears off.
Aside from the hard shift to a pure healing role, Astrologian will still be familiar to current players. The cards continue to grant damage boosts to party members. The seals earned from playing those cards will instead move to an ability called Astrodyne, which grants the Astrologian special buffs instead of the party. The Lord and Lady versions of their cards with Minor Arcana will grant an AoE damaging or healing effect, respectively. Divination grants a simple 6% damage boost to the party, moving the ability’s current seal mechanic to Astrodyne. Sleeve Draw is no more, and Redraw will only work once for a single Draw.
All in all, it may take some time to get used to the new flow for Astrologian. Macrocosmos presents the most unique challenge for players to master. Timing the ability incorrectly could lead to overhealing, not enough heals, or none at all. Knowing the encounter and planning for the best timing will definitely pay off.
Scholar – The Controversial Barrier Healer
Scholar is the most contentious healer in Final Fantasy XIV. Not a recent controversy, the job underwent massive changes during the Stormblood expansion in 2017. They then received even more unpopular changes with Shadowbringers in 2019. Their healing faerie, a pet that automatically heals party members, received reductions in potency numbers, and Scholars lost tricks to micromanage whom and when the faerie would heal. The two different faeries, Eos and Selene, used to have different abilities, making them excel in different situations. They now both do the same thing – heal the party – with only cosmetic differences between them. Scholars also used to specialize in damage over time spells, giving the player a variety to their DPS rotation, while their faerie could focus on healing. The Scholar would then step in to put up barriers or provide additional healing as needed.
Scholars have always had a single-target barrier, Adloquium, alongside an AoE party barrier, Succor, to cast before incoming damage. Their Sacred Soil has also always granted a damage reduction to party members inside the placed bubble. Aside from the regen effect Whispering Dawn from their faerie, and their single-target heal Lustrate locked behind charges of Aetherflow, Scholar did not initially have much else to offer for raw healing compared to White Mage. Starting in Heavensward in 2015, the devs decided to give Scholar more raw healing tools to compensate, such as Indomitability, an instant AoE party heal tied to their Aetherflow charges. Emergency Tactics turns their next Adloquium or Succor into a raw heal, with the shield effect applied instead as additional HP restored. Deployment Tactics extends the strong single-target shield from Adloquium to all nearby party members. Dissipation, their level 60 capstone ability, dismisses the faerie and grants the Scholar a full three stacks of Aetherflow to use, while also boosting their healing spells by 20%…but, again, without the faerie present.
In Stormblood, Scholar received even more additions to their healing arsenal. Excogitation uses an Aetherflow stack to place an effect on a party member. After 45 seconds, or when the target drops below 50% health – whichever happens first – the party member will receive a hefty heal. Aetherpact tethers the Scholar’s faerie to a single party member, focusing all heals on them until the Fey Union gauge depletes. For utility, they received Chain Stratagem, which increases the rate at which a target enemy receives critical hits. Chain Stratagem solidified Scholar’s place in endgame raids, on top of their consistent healing and shielding capabilities.
However, all these additions came at the cost of making Scholar function more similarly to White Mage and Astrologian. Scholar now only has a single damage over time spell, Biolysis, to maintain on a target. They spam Broil for single-target damage in place of Glare or Malefic. They spam Art of War for AoE damage like Holy or Gravity. Their level 80 capstone ability is Summon Seraph, which turns the faerie into the powerful Seraph version, boosting her healing and shielding capabilities – this is very much in-line with both Temperance and Neutral Sect. The devs had homogenized the healers, which would ideally make them easier to balance, but at the cost of unique job identities. Scholar has several handy tools to use in any given situation, but they don’t always flow well together, compared to White Mage’s Lily system or Astrologian’s cards. On a practical note, Scholar gets the job done, but some players argue the job itself is not as fun or engaging as it used to be. While many players have enjoyed the changes over the years, others have sworn off the job entirely, or even switched to tanking or DPS jobs instead.
Scholar – Leveling in Endwalker
In Endwalker, Scholar’s current trajectory will continue. They’ll unlock higher tiers of Broil and Art of War. They learn Protraction at level 86 as their version of Aquaveil and Exaltation. Protraction increases a party member’s HP by 10% and heals for that amount, while also boosting the effect of all healing actions by 10%. Their new level 90 capstone ability, Expedient, grants party members a Sprint effect alongside a 10% damage reduction bonus for twenty seconds.
Scholars will keep spamming Broil for single-target damage, while keeping Biolysis up for the damage over time effect, and Chain Stratagem for the boost to party damage. When they have excess Aetherflow charges, they can use them for Energy Drain for additional damage. Energy Drain will no longer grant MP upon use, and instead, Aetherflow will give back 20% of your MP instead of only 10%. Scholar will focus on Indomitability for AoE healing in a pinch. Sacred Soil’s additional regen effect, the faerie’s Whispering Dawn, and Seraph’s Angel’s Whisper will all do the trick for healing over time. Meanwhile, the faerie will continue providing free healing throughout the whole encounter. When there’s incoming damage that could completely deplete the party’s HP, the Scholar will have to decide if a single Succor is enough, or if they’ll have to get creative with Sacred Soil, Deployment Tactics, and/or Seraph’s Consolation. Expedient provides a neat tool for quickly getting the party around to handle boss mechanics, provided any improper uses (or trolling attempts) don’t accidentally send your party members running off the edge of a field to their deaths.
So, overall, nothing will really change for Scholar all that much outside of Expedient, or uses of Protraction for single-target healing. The players who enjoy Scholar will likely continue enjoying the job, while the players who have bemoaned the changes over the years will have no reason to change their minds.
Closing Thoughts – And What About Sage?
The existing healers in Final Fantasy XIV needed to make room for a fourth with Sage. Astrologian will no longer be the clunky third-wheel of a hybrid, at the cost of its shielding capabilities with Nocturnal Sect. Scholar will now share the barrier healer slot with Sage. White Mage will be the same as it’s always been, which is what players have come to expect from the job. Anyone looking for sweeping changes to the role, or even just to Scholar, will have to keep waiting and keep hoping.
If you enjoyed our coverage on the current healers, be sure to check out part two on Sage. In part two, we go over all the new tools in Sage’s kit, theorizing how the job might handle at all levels of play. If you’re interested in the job, or if you’re still iffy on Sage and need some convincing, head on over to the next part.